Erin L. O’Neill Twitter @MEDVAL_MSP I recently had a chance to connect with Erin O’Neill, PA-C, JD of MEDVAL. Let’s take a few minutes and find out what Erin has been doing with her time…

Q. Erin, what have you been up to for the past month or so?

A. Well I guess you could say I’ve been bicoastal! This summer I have spent time crisscrossing the country meeting with several clients on both the east and west coasts.

Also, in June I checked off a bucket list item by visiting the Magnolia Market at the Silos and all the other Chip and Joanna Gaines “Fixer Upper” / HGTV hot spots in Waco, Texas. (Yvonne: Who doesn’t love that show?) I couldn’t believe how much there was to see and do even though it is a small Texas town. We had a great time.

Q. What is the primary issue, related to workers’ compensation, that occupies your brain space right now?

A. So throughout the many client meetings I mentioned, there has been one issue that is on the forefront of everyone’s mind… opioids, opioids and more opioids! or rather, less opioids. 2017 was an important year as many states passed legislation in an attempt to confront the opioid epidemic. 2018 stands to surpass 2017 as states continue to focus on curtailing the opioid epidemic through the use of prescription drug monitoring programs, continuing education requirements for medical providers, state workers’ compensation drug formularies and limitations on the amounts of opioids providers may prescribe.

In meeting with insurers and other key players in the workers’ compensation industry, I am asked many different versions of the same question over and over again: “How will the steps currently being taken to combat the opioid crisis affect my workers’ compensation claim and/or my Medicare Set-Aside?” It’s a valid question / concern.

In November 2017, the California Workers’ Compensation Institute (CWCI) published a study which examined prescription medications included in Workers’ Compensation Medicare Set-Asides (WCMSAs) with a focus on opioid medications. Opioids in workers’ compensation Medicare Set Asides.

The results of the study, for which MEDVAL contributed data, were alarming to say the least but confirmed what many of us in the industry already knew with respect to including lifetime allocations of opioids in WCMSAs. This study led to many discussions regarding opioid inclusion in WCMSAs and what can be done to prevent inclusion of a lifetime allocation of these medications. There are no simple answers to this dilemma, but as local, state and federal governments as well as insurers, pharmacies and medical societies continue to take steps to address the opioid crisis, we hope to be able to leverage these collaborative efforts to address the issue regarding lifetime inclusion of opioids in WCMSAs. This problem is not going anywhere any time soon and will continue to occupy my thoughts and the thoughts of many in the workers’ compensation industry.

Yvonne Guibert. Twitter @buzzystreet I’m with Erin about the dominance of opioids in just about every conversation in workers’ compensation, really everywhere. The statistics seem to be endless and ever more startling. How did we let this happen? In our country? What can we do to help fix the problem? I attended WCRI this past March in Boston which included a session by the National Safety Council. It caused me to really tune into NSC more, because the statistics were so startling. One of them is that 115 people die every day from an opioid overdose. Take a minute and let that sink in. 115. People. Every. Day. One small thing we can do is to help NSC raise awareness of this deadly epidemic.

I saw this 3-minute video by NSC | Prescribed to Death at WCRI…it still brings tears to my eyes when I watch it. It’s shocking. Please watch if you haven’t seen it yet. And share.

If you have a Facebook profile, consider changing your profile picture to purple ribbon for Overdose Awareness Day on August 31. Or visit Int’l Overdose Awareness Day’s website for other ways you can help. Together, we can #StopEverydayKillers

#cleanupthemess #stopeverydaykillers #workerscomp #TuesdayMotivation